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Heart Restart

New hydrogel could repair damage from a heart attack


Illustration by Brian Stauffer

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack. Should they survive, their heart rhythm, pumping action, and blood circulation could sustain major damage. But a UTA scientist hopes to stem those effects, thanks to a new hydrogel that could repair heart tissue.

Bioengineering Professor Yi Hong and his team—which includes Professor Kytai Nguyen, Associate Professor Jun Liao, and Ge Zhang from the University of Akron—are developing a biodegradable, bioactive hydrogel that could be injected into the heart to promote the regrowth of new tissue cells.

Their work builds on existing research that shows injecting a hydrogel can promote the development of new muscle cells and help restore function in the heart. But the team hopes to take this one step further by developing a biogel that combines the scaffolding and repair properties with nanoparticle- based drug delivery technologies.

"Our goal is to significantly increase the recruitment of stem cells to the heart, accelerate cardiac repair, and improve cardiac function after a heart attack," says Dr. Hong.

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